Salvatore/Amore – a place to fall in love with raw oyster bar, Valentine’s Day special, singles mingles

By Elsa Maxey

Cheers, Dino!  That’s what Salvatore/Amore General Manager and Executive Chef Michael Wagner seems to be saying to the Dean Martin cutout with a toast about new and exciting things to develop at the rebranded Italian American bistro.

Lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch  with family, friends or a date, Salvatore Italian American Bistro on Wilcrest Drive and U.S. 59 is quite a find. If you’re not in work mode during lunch, have that glass of wine to wind you down a bit before your meal.

The restaurant, previously operated as Mangola’s since the 1980s, has been made over after a fire that totaled the place less than 10 years ago. It was rebuilt and today, there’s new management, a new chef, a new crew, and there’s also a new menu. “We’ve changed the conceptual operation with people who care about the restaurant, the guests and the food,” said 42-year old Executive Chef Michael, who’s also the General Manager.

“We put a little taste of Louisiana and Gulf Coast in our cooking,” he said smiling.

He fondly remembers the restaurant he now oversees. “It was where movie stars and football players went to eat,” like Sylvester Stallone, Warren Moon, other Houston Oilers, and Lyle Lovett, too.

Salvatore also now has Amore. That’s the name of its full bar with large TV screens featuring raw oysters.

Out with a couple of work friends, it was the perfect setting for lunch…family style. It took about eight to 10 minutes to prepare the $8.50 per person lunch with a beverage. “Welcome to our family,” said Michael

Dinner entrees range from $10 to $23 and dinner is served with a fresh garden salad for every meal ordered. There’s also a wine list of high quality, traditional wines, and other choices by the glass. Bottle specials are on Tuesday night, when the wine is half off and on Wednesday, buy one and get one free.

“We make memories and the real ambience is created by the food and drink we serve our guests. Salvatore is about family…yours and ours.”

Salvatore also offers catering and there’s also a “take a chef home” alternative. On Feb. 21 a wine tasting and dinner for singles is scheduled and Valentine’s Day at Salvatore will be special – a four course meal with a bottle of red or white wine from the wine list.  All of it for $75 a couple.

Salvatore/Amore is open Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., extended to 10 p.m. for incoming guests; Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 9 p.m., also opting for a 10 p.m. closing, and on Monday the restaurant is closed.

There’s no party room, “but we make room for special parties,” said Michael. The outside patio will be turned into a lounge with lights and music and in the plans are crawfish boils, fish fries, karaoke and more exciting things to come in 2013.

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